A Team Effort At Dyson Racing
Dyson Racing’s two AER-powered Lola B06/10s take their places
on the Sebring grid this month, the cars and drivers will be center
stage, of course. But it will have taken the work of more than a
score of other people in the team to get them there, along with
that of scores more at suppliers Lola and AER.
In the first
feature of our on-going Dyson Racing coverage, we described
the new Lola and its AER twin-turbo, and told you a little about
the folks at Lola Cars International and Advanced Engine Research.
Here we’re going to introduce you to the rest of the Dyson
team. You see and hear a great deal about the drivers and the cars
at every American Le Mans Series race, but the rest of them are
like the interior linemen of American football; you rarely hear
about them unless they screw up – and since these guys don’t
screw up often, you might not know anything about them at all.
tells us that, “Dyson Racing was actually Rob Dyson Racing
for the first years of club racing. When Dad started running in
professional events in 1983 the team was then officially known as
Dyson Racing.” That first race was an SCCA regional race at
Watkins Glen in 1974. Rob Dyson won. The team grew by one two years
later, when long-time crew chief Pat Smith (now retired) came on
board. Motor sports columnist Andrew Hartwell, now writing for The
Race Site, interviewed Pat in 1997, and wrote us just the other
day to tell us that “I asked Pat how he and Rob came to join
forces.” Andy went on to quote Pat in his 1997 article.
teaching an auto mechanics course at Duchess County (New York) BOCES,
and one day Rob came in looking for a student who would be willing
to work on his racing efforts on weekends and during the summer,”
recalled Pat. “We got to talking. It was only my second year
of teaching and I needed to work somewhere in the summertime anyway
- and so I decided I would go work for him. I was 32 years old then
and I’m 53 now, so we have been together for 21 years. 1997
marks our 22nd season together.
I joined up with Rob, he had already been racing in amateur competition.
As of the 1976 season, I was the crew chief on his Datsun 510. It
was just Rob and me at that point. We just kept going - won a championship
in 1980, I think - and all the while I was still teaching. In the
early ‘80s, Rob wanted to go Trans-Am racing but we decided
the races were too short. We moved over to IMSA GTO and out of the
couple of years we did that, we only had one good finish. Then Rob
bought the 962. I stopped teaching and went to work full time for
Rob in the summer of ‘84.”
In those IMSA
years, the number 16 Porsche became a familiar and popular part
of the “Porsche brigade,” an experience that certainly
taught the team much about patience, and about competing with the
best of the best, which included the “ex-officio factory team”
of the time, Holbert Racing. Now it is – and has been –
the likes of BMW (who can forget the classic 1999 Sebring finish?),
Panoz, and of course Audi that are the recent factory teams, and
you can forget the “ex-officio” part. But while others
have fled the scene, Dyson Racing remains. As Rob put it after this
past season’s victory over Champion Racing at Mosport, “Winning
means the most when you beat a worthy opponent.” That’s
what keeps Dyson Racing in the American Le Mans Series.
So who are these
guys – and one gal – who are “Dyson Racing”
in 2006? Not counting (we’re taking liberties here) the Chairman
of the Board, Rob Dyson, the President, Chris Dyson, and the drivers,
James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger, Chris Dyson, and Guy Smith, with
Andy Wallace joining for long enduros, there are twenty-two members
of Dyson Racing Team, Inc., the name that appears on race entries.
We’ll give you an overview and an introduction here, then
we’re going to feature individuals as we go through this American
Le Mans Series racing season. Get ready to get “up close and
personal” with a very different bunch.
Crew chief Randall
(don’t call him “Randy”) Kelsey
is the leader of this pack. Randall, who replaced long time crew
chief Pat Smith when the latter retired, is twenty-eight years old
– a native of Pleasant Valley, New York, who currently lives
in Poughkeepsie, New York, where the Dyson shops are located. Randall
described those facilities to us. “Dyson Racing occupies an
older red brick building that Rob has owned for many years. It’s
about 8,000 square feet, and there’s no extra room. Rob keeps
asking to bring in the Crawford (Daytona Prototype), and we keep
telling him, ‘No, there’s no room.’ We’ve
got a paint booth, a couple of metal lathes, a break area, and an
office that I share with Liz.” That’s Elizabeth
Schukal, the team’s business manager and accountant,
from Fishkill, NY. In addition to those responsibilities, she helps
Randall with team travel and some personnel items. That (the help
for Randall) is good, because his responsibilities are formidable.
In addition to personnel matters, organizing the team schedule and
logistics, he deals with suppliers, including Lola and AER. Once
the car is on-track, Randall runs the #20 car, and calls that car’s
race strategy. Thirteen of the twenty-two team personnel are full
time, based at the Poughkeepsie shops. In addition to Randall and
Liz, those core people are:
‘Boz’ Pultz, 47, of Pleasant Valley, the
team’s fabricator and a mechanic on the #16 Lola.
Carr, 42, of Armenia, New York, is in charge of all fueling,
of pit set-up, and drives the #16 car tractor trailer.
Wirehouse, 50, sometimes called ‘Nut,’ lives
in Millbrook, New York. He works with Frank Babineau (Michelin)
in preparing tires for both Lolas, works in the body shop when
in Poughkeepsie, and does the decals for both cars.
Arns, 32, of Wappingers Falls, NY is the Head Mechanic
for the #16 car, responsible for all preparation and maintenance.
At the track he works with Peter Weston making set-up changes
to that car, and dealing with drivers Butch Leitzinger and James
Weaver. That doesn’t sound easy at all.
Charland, 41, of Pleasant Valley, is the team’s
composite man, responsible for carbon fiber work and repairs.
In addition to that, Matt is responsible for ‘driver comfort’
items – seats, seat belts, drink bottles, etc.
White, 39, New Paltz, New York, is Dyson Racing’s
shock and gearbox technician, but also calls race strategy and
is in charge of the #16 car during races. He works with Peter
and James on shock set-up. Having been responsible for gearboxes
over the past four years, he’s now training Cliff Hauck
to assume those responsibilities.
Hauck, 28, Greenville, New York, is the gearbox technician
who builds and maintains gearboxes for both cars.
DiMarco, 34, of Rhinebeck, NY, is a composite and body
man, and is the team’s head painter.
Murasso, 53, of Poughkeepsie is a mechanic for the #20
car, as is...
Halupke, 44, of Pleasant Valley. They work together to
prepare and maintain the #20 Lola.
Davidson, 46, of Lagrangeville, NY, is the team’s
full time machinist. He stays at the Poughkeepsie shops.
Nine of the
twenty-two Dyson crew are part time, which usually means that they
join the team at race events, where they have responsibilities directly
related to preparing and racing the two Lolas.
Weston, 45, a native of Leicester, England who now lives
in Norwich, England, is the team’s Head Engineer. He works
on chassis set-up and takes on car design issues with the team
and with Lola. During races, Peter calculates fuel consumption
and determines fuel strategy.
‘V2’ is 41, a native of Knoxville, Kentucky and a
resident of Indianapolis, Indiana. Vince is Dyson Racing’s
data acquisition engineer. He is in charge of the PI system –
instrumentation – and data management for both cars. Vince
helps Mike, Randall, and Peter with race strategy.
Fryer, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the tractor-trailer
driver for the #20 Lola, maintains the team’s paddock tent
areas, and helps Vince Carr with pit set-up.
Lent, 24, from Milbrook, NY, is a student at Rochester
Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. When with the team he
works as an assistant mechanic, helping with preparation and repair
of both Lolas.
Jared ‘J-rod’ King,
18, is a student at Wyoming Technical Institute (Wyo Tech) in
Laramie, Wyoming. From Pleasant Valley, he helps Tony DiMarco
and Matt Charland in the composite shop and paint shop.
Berry, of Jacksonville, Florida, is the fueling vent
man for the #16 Lola, and the team’s machinist at the track.
Meeker, Jacksonville, Florida, is the fueler for the
#20 Lola and helps with pit set-up and maintenance.
Williams, formerly of Ceiba, Puerto Rico, now Jacksonville,
Florida, is the vent man on the #20 Lola.
30, of Salt Point, New York is the team’s tire assistant.
He helps Jim Wirehouse at the track with tires for both cars.
at Sebring above or across from the pits, or watching on television,
look for the “over-the-wall” crews for the two cars.
When the #16
Lola pits, with James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger, or at Sebring Andy
Wallace driving, the man at the front of the car with the headset
and clipboard, directing the action, is Mike White, who calls the
race. Vince Carr is the fueler, with Bryan Berry on the vent. David
Fryer has the fire bottle. Tire changers are Darren Arns, ‘Boz’
Pultz, Tony DiMarco, and Matt Charland.
When the #20
Lola pits, with Chris Dyson or Guy Smith driving, the man at the
front is team manager Randall Kelsey, who calls the race. Randy
Meeker is the fueler, with Julio Williams on the vent. The fire
bottle is in the hands of Tim Adams. Tire changers are Cliff Hauck,
Lou Murasso, Scott Halupke, and Stan Lent.
On both cars
the “deadman” is whatever crew member is available;
the “deadman” holds the fueling rig valve – should
he drop his hold for any reason, fuel flow will stop.
a photo of the “road crew” taken last year. Although
there are a few internal changes, there has been zero turnover on
the Dyson Team beyond Guy Smith partnering Chris in the #20 Lola.
From left to
right; David Fryer, John ‘Boz’ Pultz, Vince Carr, Peter
Weston, Stan Lent, Jim Wirehouse, Darren Arns, Jared King, Randall
Kelsey, Matt Charland, Mike White, Tony DiMarco, Lou Murasso, Scott
Halupke, Cliff Hauck, Vince Wood. “What a motley group,”
crew, five drivers, and Rob – twenty-eight. We can add three
more, publicist Brian Wagner, and photographers Regis Lefebure and
Dr. Brian Mitchell. The latter two are well known for their published
work, while the former writes the team’s news releases, and
behind the scenes provides much of the information for Dyson Racing
in race reports and other stories. Finally, look for Bob Leitzinger.
Bob, of course, is not only Butch’s dad, but a famous sports
car driver in his own right, IMSA GTU driver’s champion in
1989, and runner-up to son Butch in 1993. Bob often keeps lap charts
the time this group have completed the bulk of their work, it's
'simply' down to the likes of James to pull on his (rather frayed
looking) gloves, Chris to pull on his helmet - and for the four
/ five drivers to complete the task.
people who make Dyson Racing go. Stay with us here through the season
and you’ll learn much more about them.